College of Arts and Sciences
Academic Advising Support Center

Teacher Preparation and Certification Programs

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    Each state in the U.S.A has different requirements for becoming a teacher.

    WA State: The first WA State teacher certificate issued to a new teacher is called the Residency Certificate. This is valid until the holder is reported as employed by a WA school district as a teacher with 1.5FTE or more experience. As a teacher progresses in their career and completes additional requirements, they may earn higher level certifications.

    In order to be a candidate for a WA State teaching certificate, you must:

    1. Earn a bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

    2. Complete any state's approved teacher preparation program. Currently there are 21 approved degree or certificate programs in WA that result in WA teaching certification.

    • In the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett-Bellingham region, a wealth of programs exist. Download this PDF for a sampling of the available programs, admissions requirements and contact information. 
    • A complete list of currently approved programs in Washington State may be found on the PESB website.

    OR: If you have not completed a state approved program, individuals may verify at least 3 years of K-12 teaching experience outside of WA, and hold a regular certificate in another state.

    All Other States: To gain the most current information about requirements to become a certified teacher in a particular state, it is recommended that you contact the state's department of education. The U.S Department of Education maintains a list of contact information for each state here. Other websites also offer information on state-specific teaching certification requirements: Certification Map and U of Kentucky's College of Education.

    As you decide which teaching preparation program is best for you, understanding the outcomes of each program is important. Below is a guide to the types of degrees and certificates awarded. This information may also be found online.   

    Post Baccalaureate (Certificate)

    Certificate only programs are sometimes referred to as a Post Baccalaureate Certificate or Post-Bac Cert. A prospective teacher may choose to take teacher preparation coursework after completing an undergraduate content major. These programs are typically one year and often expect that all content courses and passage of Washington State Educator Skills Tests ( WEST-B and E) have been completed prior to enrollment. Completion of the Certificate Only program does not include a recognized degree.

    Masters in Teaching(MIT)(Degree and Certificate)

    The typical Masters in Teaching (MIT) program is designed for a candidate who has a subject content degree and seeks to add a teaching certificate along with a master’s Degree. Depending on the program, some are designed to be completed in as little as one year.

    Masters of Arts in Teaching
    (MAT)(Degree and Certificate)

    A Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) offers a pathway to certification for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree. In Washington, M.A.T. programs generally assume that candidates have acquired the necessary content knowledge, so the programs focus on methods, curriculum, and other education coursework needed to prepare for certification.

    Masters of Arts
    (MA)(Degree)

    Master of Arts degree is the generic label for the graduate degree earned after completion of a bachelor’s degree. It may be offered in many fields, including education, but a program advertised as “Master of Arts in Education” is usually designed to serve the needs of teachers who have already earned a teaching certificate.

    Masters of Education
    (M.Ed)(Degree)

    The Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree is usually designed for individuals who already possess a teaching certificate and are interested in acquiring additional understanding of teaching or who wish to add a certificate in another education role, such as administrator or school counselor.

    Bachelors(Degree and Certification)

    A prospective teacher may choose to take teacher preparation coursework during the undergraduate degree. The expectation of this program is that teachers take subject content courses - such as Mathematics, Art, or History - during the teacher preparation program. Many disciplines have candidates wait to enroll in their Junior year, where others may require enrollment as early as the Freshman year. These programs offer subject content courses on site, and not all sites or institutions offer a bachelor’s program.

    Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification

    (Route 1: Degree and Certificate)

    (Routes 2,3,4: Certificate)

    Alternative Routes to Certification in Washington State provide performance-based programs aimed at recruiting candidates to teach in statewide subject matter/geographic shortage areas. There are four Alternative Route pathways:

    Route 1 is designed for paraprofessionals who hold a transferable Associate Degree to earn a Bachelor’s degree along with certification. Routes 2, 3, and 4 are mentored internship programs for candidates who hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from regionally accredited institution to earn a teaching certificate.